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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 573527, 8 pages
Research Article

Ethanol Extract of Dianthus chinensis L. Induces Apoptosis in Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma HepG2 Cells In Vitro

Center of Herbal Resources Research, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon 305-811, Republic of Korea

Received 16 November 2011; Accepted 20 February 2012

Academic Editor: William C. S. Cho

Copyright © 2012 Kyoung Jin Nho et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Dianthus chinensis L. is used to treat various diseases including cancer; however, the molecular mechanism by which the ethanol extract of Dianthus chinensis L. (EDCL) induces apoptosis is unknown. In this study, the apoptotic effects of EDCL were investigated in human HepG2 hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Treatment with EDCL significantly inhibited cell growth in a concentration- and time-dependent manner by inducing apoptosis. This induction was associated with chromatin condensation, activation of caspases, and cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase protein. However, apoptosis induced by EDCL was attenuated by caspase inhibitor, indicating an important role for caspases in EDCL responses. Furthermore, EDCL did not alter the expression of bax in HepG2 cells but did selectively downregulate the expression of bcl-2 and bcl-xl, resulting in an increase in the ratio of bax:bcl-2 and bax:bcl-xl. These results support a mechanism whereby EDCL induces apoptosis through the mitochondrial pathway and caspase activation in HepG2 cells.